5 of the Best Road Bridges in Europe

What do the Golden Gate, Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Simon and Garfunkel have in common? They’re all inextricably linked with bridges. However, none of them or their work feature in Jonno Turner‘s pick of the five best road bridges in Europe. Brunel won’t be happy…

Millau Viaduct, Southern France

Image credit: Andy Wasley

Millau Viaduct, Southern France

Standing a huge 270 metres above the valley it spans, the Millau Viaduct is not only the tallest bridge in the world, but also the tallest structure in France (take that, Eiffel Tower).

Regularly ranked as one of the greatest engineering feats of all time, it stretches an incredible 2460 metres across the Tarn Gorge, and as Architect Norman Foster one wrote that he wanted motorists to “feel as if they were flying their cars”, rest assured that this bridge  represents  far more than a convenient way of getting from A to B.

Vasco da Gama Bridge, Portugal

Whilst perhaps lacking some of the aesthetic poise and grace of  its counterparts, as the longest bridge on the continent, this 17.2km monster makes the cut on sheer size alone.

Sprawling across the River Tagus in Lisbon and housing six road lanes, this structure was built to withstand wind speeds of over 150mph and its foundations drill down a huge 95m below sea level, at a cost of $1.1bn. If you’re a stats fan, this one’s for you.

Vasco da Gama Bridge, Portugal

Image credit: F H Mira

Erasmus Bridge, Netherlands

Image credit: tobiashm

Erasmus Bridge, Netherlands

Nicknamed ‘The Swan’ due to its graceful appearance on the Nieuwe Maas River, the Erasmus links the northern and southern halves of Rotterdam.

An elegant, cable-stayed structure, it was the venue for an epic performance by Dutch DJ Tiesto,  during which he brought along a multitude of lights and fireworks, and dubbed the evening, imaginatively, ‘Tiesto at the Bridge’.

With work completed in 1996, the bridge is a youthful18 years old – which perhaps explains its penchant for Progressive Trance .

Glienicke Bridge, Germany

Dubbed ‘The Bridge of Spies’, the Glienicke is not a vast modern structure – but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in story.

Spanning the Havel River, from Berlin to Potsdam, the Glienicke was originally called the ‘Bridge of Unity’ but was closed in 1952, and was the chosen venue to exchange prisoners from East to West and vice verse, until the fall of the Berlin Wall some 37 years later.

With the border markers still visible, pressed deep in the concrete underfoot, the bridge is symbolic and oft-referenced in popular culture – from John Le Carré’s ‘Smiley’s People’ to permed, pop rockers T’Pau in their 1987 number one single.

Glienicke Bridge, Germany

Image credit: 96dpi

Ponte 25 de Abril, Portugal

Image credit: Alex [Fino] LA

Ponte 25 de Abril, Portugal

No, that’s not San Francisco’s  Golden Gate bridge – but it’s as close as you’ll get on this side of the Atlantic. Constructed in 1966 by the American Bridge Company, which explains the similarities with its Californian cousin, it was, in its pomp, the largest outside of the USA.

Originally named the Salazar Bridge until it was renamed in honour of the 1974 Carnation Revolution, it spans the Tagus river alongside its neighbour, the Vasco da Gama – and connects Lisbon to Almada.

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